Here’s what 14 top executives are saying about the ‘metaverse’

Metaverse digital cyber world technology, man with virtual reality VR goggle playing AR augmented reality game and entertainment, futuristic lifestyleMetaverse digital cyber world technology, man with virtual reality VR goggle playing AR augmented reality game and entertainment, futuristic lifestyle
  • Tech leaders are increasingly using the vague term “metaverse” in earnings calls with investors. 
  • Many are following the lead of Meta, who announced it would be focusing on building the metaverse.
  • Executives had different expectations for what the “metaverse” will be when questioned in earnings calls.

The “metaverse” has become a hot topic for executives, analysts, and investors alike, being mentioned in the earnings calls of more than 15 companies in the past few months alone. 

As the tech world grapples with what the metaverse will actually look like, several executives have started weaving mentions of it into discussion with investors. However, their remarks indicate they are still fairly unsure of what specifically the metaverse is and how it functions. 

While Facebook’s recent rebranding to Meta helped increase awareness of the metaverse and propelled it to a topic of global conversation, even CEO Mark Zuckerberg only has a vague notion of the definition of the metaverse. 

“The best way to understand the metaverse is to experience it yourself, but it’s a little tough because it doesn’t fully exist yet,” Zuckerberg said at a conference last month. 

Some companies are divided on whether it represents a real virtual space or if it’s just a concept, while others are unsure if a metaverse will ever actually exist and are weary of the nebulous technology. 

Analysts at Morgan Stanley said the metaverse could represent an $8 trillion opportunity, but it would be a challenge to get people interested in using it. Augmented reality and artificial intelligence experts also told Insider that a metaverse could drastically amplify society’s political polarization.

Still, companies are willing to make large investments in the metaverse, even if they don’t fully understand it yet. The space is expected to be worth $82 billion by 2025, according to The Information, and companies plan to expand their goods and services into the experimental virtual space.

Here’s what some company executives are saying about the metaverse, and what they intend to do with it.

Agora Inc.

The real-time video platform just announced a network product that would “accelerate any kind of data, not just video or audio, and for any application, whether it’s gaming, e-commerce, collaboration, or metaverse,” according to CEO Tony Zhao.

“Recently, we have seen an accelerating trend of real-time engagement in extended reality environment, creating the infrastructure of metaverse,” Zhao said in a November call with investors. “Our plan is to further enhance our capabilities in these areas and become an instrumental infrastructure provider for metaverse.”

Bilibili

“Metaverse is a concept, it’s not a product,” Bilibili CEO Rui Chen said in a call with investors on Wednesday, suggesting elements of the metaverse have existed for a long time, but companies are only now jumping onboard.

“I think that if someone hears the concept of metaverse and decided to get into this business, probably would be a little bit too late,” Chen said. “When we talk about metaverse, we think this is not something that can be done by a singular company. You need to have massive content production capability to produce another world.”

Whitney Wolfe Herd wears a brown and white dress while sitting on stage.
Whitney Wolfe Herd is the founder and CEO of Bumble.

Bumble

Bumble plans to build new engagement and community relationships for users “through the communities they build, the virtual goods and experiences they acquire or through new ways of owning their identity as they navigate the metaverse,” CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd said in an earnings call in November.

“Built on blockchain technology, we believe [Bumble BFF] will enable a level of participation and empowerment that will make our mission come to life,” Herd said. “In the near term, this means new engagement, participation and creator models.”

Coinbase Co-founder and CEO Brian Armstrong speaks on stage in front of a green background
Coinbase Co-founder and CEO Brian Armstrong

Coinbase

Coinbase COO Emilie Choi said in a November earnings call that the company had been spending “a lot of time” developing the metaverse alongside blockchain technology, cryptocurrency, and NFTs, which are being used by “tens of millions of Americans.”

“We think there’s just an abundance of innovation in this space, and we want to keep doubling down on those opportunities,” Choi said in the call. 

Dolby Laboratories 

Dolby laboratories said it sees potential of the metaverse to integrate with its technology, particularly when it comes to auditory features. 

“I think the metaverse can take many forms, but ultimately, it is an audiovisual experience,” CEO Kevin Yeman said in an earnings call on Tuesday, noting he hopes to integrate it with their Dolby.io technology. “I think some of our developers, they even define themselves as virtual environments and maybe, by extension, the metaverse.”

Mark Zuckerberg Facebook Connect 2021
Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook Connect 2021

Facebook

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg announced the company was changing its name to Meta in a push to focus its attention on the metaverse. Zuckerberg previously said Meta’s first venture into the metaverse would be focused on building a virtual reality workspace, where employees could interact in virtual meetings.

 “You can think about the metaverse as an embodied internet, where instead of just viewing content — you are in it,” Zuckerberg told The Verge.

Match Group

Match Group CEO Sharmistha Dubey said in an earnings call in November she imagines using metaverse features for the company’s dating apps, like “a piano bar where people’s digital selves are gathering around, but they’re actually playing their pianos at home and jamming with others.”

“It is metaverse experiences coming to life in a way that is transformative to how people meet and get to know each other on a dating or social discovery platform and is much more akin to how people interact in the real world,” Dubey said. 

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, seated with open hands.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

Microsoft

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella touted the company’s new Azure service in its earnings call in July to help decentralize computing, with companies like Campbell Soup, L’Oréal, and SAP migrating to its service.

“As the digital and physical worlds converge, we are leading in a new layer of the infrastructure stack, the ‘enterprise metaverse,” Nadella said.

NetEase

The Chinese tech entertainment company said the company is “technologically ready” for a move into the metaverse space.

“The metaverse is indeed the new buzzword everywhere today. But then, on the other hand, I think nobody has actually had firsthand experience in what it is,” Margaret Shi, NetEase head of investor relations, said on a November earnings call.

Roblox CEO David Baszucki
David Baszucki, founder and CEO of Roblox, presents at the Roblox Developer Conference on August 10, 2019 in Burlingame, California.

Roblox

Roblox has been frequently cited as an example of a potential metaverse model. Roblox CEO David Baszucki said in an earnings call in June that the company is driven to “really participating in inventing and shepherding in the metaverse in an innovative way.”

“When we think about the metaverse and what Roblox is, we do think of it as a utility,” Baszucki said.

The company aims to connect more than 1 billion people in the metaverse, according to Chief Product Officer Manuel Bronstein. The metaverse will also house experiences from ad agencies, according to Chief Business Officer Craig Donato.

Unity Software

The video game software company recently acquired Weta Digital, which it said will help with entry into the metaverse space, especially with a creator-focused approach. In an effort to populate the metaverse, the company has started building thousands of digital assets, such as virtual collectibles.

“That’s going to really help us extract and help build the metaverse around the notion the world’s a better place with more creators in it,” CEO John Riccitiello said on an earnings call in November. “This really puts under our platform something that is, at least from an artist perspective, truly magic and they’re the largest tappable audience we have in our universe.”

Vonage Holdings

The cloud communications provider said it’s focusing on cloud-based technology to increase user engagement in preparation for something bigger, hinting at use in a metaverse context. 

Vonage Holdings CEO Rory Read said on an earnings call in November that the company expects to see a more fleshed out version of the metaverse in the next five to ten years.

“We believe this is only going to accelerate as this 360-degree kind of engagement in the metaverse expands and explodes,” Read said.

Bob Chapek
Bob Chapek, CEO of the Walt Disney Co.

The Walt Disney Company

CEO Bob Chapek said he is confident in Disney’s ability to capitalize on the metaverse with its broad properties, citing the company’s history with adopting technologies, like synchronized audio and computer animation.

“Suffice it to say, our efforts to date are merely a prologue to a time when we’ll be able to connect the physical and digital worlds even more closely, allowing for storytelling without boundaries in our own Disney metaverse,” Chapek said in a November call, suggesting the company creates its own metaverse.

Warner Music Group

Warner Music Group discussed the potential for content creation and distribution for their music on large-scale metaverse platforms, like Roblox and Fortnite, in its earnings call in November.

“When you begin to look at the global reach, the number of people that spend meaningful amounts of time in these new worlds, I think it provides a universe of opportunity,” CEO Stephen Cooper said.

 

 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Companies are mentioning the words ‘supply chain’ more than ever before during earnings calls

A crane at a shipping yard lifting a shipping container
Companies have relied on lean supply chains until the pandemic disrupted things.

  • The term “supply chain” has been reference about 3,000 in investors’ earning calls this year.
  • A supply chain crisis is expected to slow down retail operations, especially during the holidays.
  • President Biden met with retailers to tackle alleviating supply chain pressures across the country.

Companies from Apple to Costco are echoing the same words in their third-quarter earnings calls, which could foreshadow major delays in the retail industry in the coming months.

S&P 500 executives have mentioned “supply chain” and related terms almost 3,000 times on company investor calls as of Tuesday, Bloomberg reported, surpassing last year’s tally of about 2,000 mentions.

“Supply chain is taking center stage on earnings calls as the supply chain is a disaster,” Scott Mushkin, an analyst at R5 Capital, told Bloomberg. “Honestly, there is a chance the system breaks down during the holidays.”

Supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19 continue to strain retail schedules, especially as the markets head into the holiday season. Big retailers like Walmart, Ikea, and Home Depot have resorted to chartering their own bulk shipping vessels to sidestep shipping delays, while companies like Amazon and Lululemon invested more on their air freight delivery operations.

Meanwhile, executives are telling their customers to brace for continued shortages and imminent price hikes.

McCormick & Co. CEO Lawrence Kurzius cited “additional pressure on our supply chain due to strained transportation capacity and labor shortages and distribution” in an earnings call in September, which “negatively impact sales.” Pepsi CEO Ramon Laguarta said in an earnings call that the company pulled back some perimeter inventory in the summer “voluntarily” because of “supply chain constraints.”

However, companies can also use global supply chain issues as reasons to explain poor quarterly performances, some market experts say, using the term as a PR cushion to soften the impact of a company’s pandemic-era performance.

“Any company missing earnings can and will now freely employ the supply chain excuse,” lead market strategist and founder of NorthmanTrader Sven Henrich said in a tweet.

President Biden met Wednesday with officials from the Port of Los Angeles, which is facing a large onslaught of incoming cargo vessels stuck at port, to expand hours of operation to off-peak and night hours and hopefully lessen the stress of supply chain woes. But the discussions about the effects of supply chain problems isn’t going away.

“Holiday goods are waiting at the ports,” Stephanie Wissink, an analyst at Jefferies who covers retailers and consumer-product companies, told Bloomberg. “For retailers and brands alike, it’s a race against the clock.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

AMC says it’s open to a gaming partnership with fellow meme-stock darling GameStop

People walk outside the AMC Empire 25 movie theater in Times Square
  • AMC is eyeing a gaming partnership with GameStop after shareholders showed interest in the idea, CEO Adam Aron said Monday.
  • “We’re willing. We have not reached out to GameStop yet, but we intend to do so,” he said on an earnings call.
  • Movie-theater giant AMC and video-game retailer GameStop were both targets in the meme-stock trading frenzy this year.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

AMC Entertainment is considering a tie-up with fellow Reddit favorite GameStop after being quizzed by shareholders about a potential partnership, CEO Adam Aron said on an earnings call Monday.

“I don’t even think I can count the number of times people have asked me if we could partner with GameStop,” he said, according to a transcript of the call. “We’re certainly willing to do so.”

Attendees on the conference call asked whether AMC, the world’s largest movie-theater operator, would ally with the video-game retailer to run gaming competitions shown on the big screen.

“It takes two to tango,” Aron said. “We’re willing. We have not reached out to GameStop yet, but we intend to do so.”

AMC is on the case, and more developments may yet transpire, he added. GameStop didn’t immediately respond to an Insider request for comment.

Aron was speaking after AMC released second-quarter earnings, which beat revenue estimates with audiences returning to movie theaters as COVID restrictions eased. Revenue for the meme-stock favorite rose 19% to $444.7 million in the quarter that ended June 30 compared with the previous year, smashing the $382.1 million estimate of analysts polled by Refinitiv.

By the end of 2021, the theater operator plans to accept bitcoin as payment for movie tickets and concessions at its US locations. “Many of our new shareholders also are quite enthusiastic about cryptocurrency,” Aron said on the call.

GameStop, the original meme stock, surged in price in January as retail traders banded together to buy it as part of an anti-establishment movement. In an echo of that trading frenzy, the WallStreetBets community triggered a short squeeze on AMC, among the market’s most-heavily shorted stocks.

AMC’s market cap nearly doubled in June to above $30 billion, worth nearly eight times its pre-pandemic high. This was seen as a bizarre valuation for a company that was looking to avoid bankruptcy only earlier this year.

Short-sellers betting against AMC lost $2.8 billion in just one day as its stock price soared 127% in June.

AMC stock is currently much lower than its June high, but still up 1,500% so far this year. It was last trading 10% higher in Tuesday’s pre-market session at $37.08 per share as of 5:45 a.m. ET.

Read More: These 5 stocks offer the most short-squeeze potential for retail investors this week, according to Fintel

Read the original article on Business Insider

Clorox tumbles 12% as the company misses on earnings and projects a post-pandemic decline in demand for cleaning supplies

Clorox wipes
  • Clorox fell as much as 12.1% on Tuesday after the company reported a steep earnings miss and lowered guidance.
  • Sales for the company’s most recent fiscal quarter came in at $1.8 billion, well below sales a year prior and $100 million short of analyst expectations.
  • With the pandemic subsiding, Clorox expects both sales and earnings per share to fall as consumers pull back on buying cleaning supplies.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

Clorox fell as much as 12.1% on Tuesday after the company reported a steep earnings miss and revised down its guidance amid a post-pandemic decline in demand for cleaning supplies.

The stock fell briefly below $160 before paring back some of its losses later in the day. Clorox had been trading near $180 on Monday before the pre-market earnings announcement.

“As we head into fiscal year 2022, we’re laser focused on operational execution, rebuilding our margins, and driving market share improvements in this dynamic environment,” CEO Linda Rendle said in a statement.

Sales for the company’s most recent fiscal quarter came in at $1.8 billion, well below sales a year prior and $100 million short of analyst expectations. Adjusted earnings per share were at 95 cents, versus an expected $1.32.

The weak quarterly performance was accompanied by pessimistic guidance for the coming fiscal years. With the pandemic subsiding, Clorox expects both sales and EPS to fall as consumers pull back on buying cleaning supplies.

Still, the company announced $500 million over five years in fresh investment, with a focus on building out its digital channels and cutting costs. Clorox has nearly doubled its e-commerce business in the last two years, though it is still in the early stages, Rendle said.

Clorox closed at $164.30 on Tuesday, down 9.3% on the day.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Unilever dips 6% as rising commodity prices cut into margin outlook

FILE PHOTO: Unilever headquarters in Rotterdam, Netherlands August 21, 2018. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw
  • Unilever slid as much as 6% on Thursday after the company downgraded its margin outlook for the year.
  • The stock was Thursday’s biggest loser among the FTSE 100.
  • The outlook adjustment comes as Unilever finds itself caught in a brewing political row over a decision by Ben & Jerry’s, its subsidiary, to cease operations in what it called the occupied Palestinian territory.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

Unilever slid as much as 6% on Thursday after the company downgraded its margin outlook for the year.

On a Thursday earnings call, Unilever announced that despite healthy sales growth, rising commodities prices had begun to eat away at its operating margins. The company has raised prices but not quickly enough to prevent margins from compressing. Unilever downgraded its margins outlook to “about flat.”

The stock fell on the news, dropping sharply as British markets opened and trending down slowly thereafter. The stock was Thursday’s biggest loser among the FTSE 100.

The outlook adjustment comes as Unilever finds itself caught in a brewing political row over a decision by Ben & Jerry’s to cease operations in what it called the occupied Palestinian territory. Ben & Jerry’s is owned by Unilever but is run by an independent board, signaling a potential conflict over control of the company.

On Thursday, a Texas official said the state’s pension fund was exploring divesting from Unilever under a 2017 law banning investments in any company that boycotts Israel. Earlier on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said his country would “act aggressively” against Ben & Jerry’s and warned of “severe consequences.”

“Unilever remains fully committed to our business in Israel,” Unilever CEO Alan Jope said during the Thursday earnings call.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Elon Musk trumpeted self-driving cars, joked about vampires, and recalled a USB-cable hunt on Tesla’s earnings call. Here are the 11 best quotes.

elon musk
Elon Musk.

  • Elon Musk discussed AI, clean energy, and production headaches on Tesla’s earnings call.
  • The Tesla CEO also mentioned fossil-fuel taxes, vampires, and USB cables.
  • Scroll down for Musk’s 11 best quotes from the call.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk made several bold predictions, trumpeted the power of clean energy, and bemoaned the difficulty of mass production during the electric-vehicle company’s first-quarter earnings call on Monday.

The self-proclaimed “Technoking of Tesla” also touched on vampires, USB cables, self-driving cars, energy taxes, and World War II, according to a transcript on Sentieo, a financial-research site.

Here are Musk’s 11 best quotes, lightly edited and condensed for clarity:

1. “More likely than not, Model Y will be the best-selling car or truck of any kind in the world in 2022.”

2. “There’s no question in my mind that with a pure-vision solution, we can make a car that is dramatically safer than the average person.” – asserting that a self-driving car, guided by multiple cameras that process images at superhuman speed, will be safer than a human-controlled car.

3. “Long term, people will think of Tesla as much as an AI robotics company as we are a car company, or an energy company.”

4. “I just love that they call it vampires.” – commenting on “vampire drain,” the term for electric batteries losing charge when not in use.

5. “You can actually power the entire United States with roughly a 100-mile grid of solar. It’s entirely possible to power all of Earth with a small percentage of Earth’s area.”

6. “Why don’t we do it? The energy basis of the earth is gigantic, super-mega-insanely gigantic. So you can’t just go and do 1 zillion terawatts overnight. You’ve got to build the production capacity for the battery cells, for the solar cells. You’ve got to put that into vehicles. You’ve got to put that into storage packs. You’ve got to put that into solar panels and Solarglass Roofs, and you’ve got to deploy all this stuff.”

7. “We should tax energy that we think is probably bad and support energy we think is probably good, just like cigarettes and alcohol, versus fruits and vegetables.”

8. “Prototypes are trivial, they’re child’s play. Production at large scale with higher liability and low cost – insanely difficult. Myself and many others at Tesla had to basically have several aneurysms to get this done.”

9. “What Tesla achieved on the automotive side was not to create an electric car. The truly profound thing on the car side is that Tesla was the first American car company to achieve volume production of a car in 100 years and not go bankrupt.”

10. “We’ve had production stop because of carpet in the trunk. We’ve had production stop because of a USB cable. At one point, for Model S, we literally raided every electronics store in the Bay Area. For a few days there, nobody could buy a USB cable in the Bay Area because we went and bought them all to put them in the car.” – describing how a shortage of one minor component out of 10,000 can halt production entirely.

11. “We’re talking millions of cars, a massive global supply chain, 50 countries, dozens of regulatory regimes. Solving those constraints and logistical problems makes World War II look trivial. I’m not kidding.”

Read the original article on Business Insider